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Good morning! Are you starting to feel settled in your daily practice yet? It’s okay if the answer is no – sometimes being uncomfortable is part of the process. Sometimes the voices are making too much noise, or not enough.

No one writes in a vacuum. We are surrounded by the voices of others – our culture, our community, our critics. Yet to write with freedom, to follow our own curiosity, we need to be immersed in a deep quiet.

Here’s a personal confession: when I first got married, I had an issue with jealousy. In particular, my husband’s rather gorgeous ex-girlfriend. It was tedious for him, and horrible for me. So I went to see a counsellor and she suggested that I allow myself fifteen minutes a day to obsess on this jealousy. In that fifteen minutes I could ask about her, I could stalk her online (though online was pretty new in those days), I could look at her photos. But at the end of fifteen minutes, she was to be boxed up until the next day. Oddly enough, after less than a week, I got to ten minutes of my allotted jealousy time…. and found that I was bored. By removing the fight, I removed the power.

I want to suggest something similar for you. As you sit down to your writing time, keep a notepad alongside you. When those critical voices or distracting voices come in (‘what are you doing writing? You have a job to do! A family to care for! A car to fix!) – simply jot them down in the notepad, and continue with your writing. At the end of the session you might have some scribbled words: fix car! Bad mother! Call bank! Now, you can give them your attention. But, as with your writing, set a timer. It might be half an hour, it might be an hour – it’s up to you. But the timer is king. Within that allotted time, you can attend to those worries – you can act on them, you can simply count off the worries like rosary beads. However, you use that worry time, when the buzzer sounds for time out: you lay them down.

I’ve since come to learn that this practice of ‘containing’ has some decent research behind it. I think it can help our creativity. It helped mine.

So try that today.

And in your writing time, try to just be present. You don’t need to join the pieces together yet. This first few weeks are about opening up the writing voice and putting those unhelpful voices aside.

The bible refers to the ‘still small voice’ of God. I want you to be able to hear your own still, small voice. Hear it and honour it.

Today’s prompt is…

Explore a new city